During a question-and-answer session streamed live on Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook is working on the “dislike” button (Creative Bloq). He then went on to give an interesting explanation of why, when and how the button should be used in Facebook based on the emotional posts shared in the social media platform:
People aren’t looking for an ability to downvote other people’s posts. What they really want is to be able to express empathy. Not every moment is a good moment, right? . . . If you are sharing something that is sad, whether it’s something in current events like the refugee crisis that touches you or if a family member passed away, then it might not feel comfortable to “like” that post.
Facebook may have the goal of lessening users’ confusion on what emotions are expressed towards certain posts, but the “dislike” button may actually add more to that confusion. For instance, if someone shares a post about the Syrian refugee crisis and someone “dislikes” it, is that person disliking the refugees or the situation the refugees are in (Creative Bloq)?
The confusing functions of the “like” and “dislike” buttons can be seen on other websites, such as YouTube. One of the first things that users view underneath YouTube videos are the two buttons and the like and dislike ratio bar. The like and dislike ratio bar may display how many viewers clicked on each button and compare the most popularly clicked button with the least popularly clicked button, but it does not truly give an idea of how people feel towards the video.
The most effective way for users to express themselves is through commenting on posts. In the Facebook comments section, users can express themselves much more effectively than a simple “like” button through punctuations, capitalized words, emoticons, and pictures. In fact, Facebook offers more room for expression than other websites, such as YouTube, where their comment section is only limited to text.
So, should users use the “like” and “dislike” buttons on Facebook, or ignore them and only use the comments section? Well, without the comments section on Facebook, it would be much harder to identify what users are “liking” or “disliking” in posts. Also, if Facebook puts the “like” and “dislike” buttons next to each other, users may have a better idea of whether to expect a generally “positive” or “negative” reaction in the comments section
It would be interesting to see if Facebook designed the “dislike” button to allow users to select from a list of reasons as to why they “disliked” posts (similar to the message that pops up when users click on the “flag” button). In addition to that, users should also be able to hover their cursor over the “dislike” button and see why other users clicked on that button. Until Facebook’s next big announcement regarding the “dislike” button, we can only imagine that it would look and function like the “like” button.